2023 Environmental Conference Inspires Climate Solutions

Bainbridge Island, WA – On Saturday, March 25th, more than 140  environmental stewards and community members gathered at Bainbridge Island High School for the 2023 Bainbridge Island Environmental Conference. The theme of the conference was “Our Island Home on an Unruly Planet,” a title inspired by the keynote speaker Madeline Ostrander, environmental journalist and author of the book “At Home on an Unruly Planet.” 

Madeline Ostrander has written extensively on issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental justice. Her keynote speech focused on the urgency of addressing climate change and the need for collective action at all levels of society. “I wrote ‘At Home on an Unruly Planet’ hoping it could start meaningful conversations about climate responses in people’s communities,” said Ostrander. “I couldn’t have dreamed up a better or more inspiring place for that than at [the Environmental Conference].” 

The 2023 Jerry and Elane Hellmuth Environmentalist of the Year Award was awarded to Lara Hansen, Chief Scientist & Executive Director of EcoAdapt. She is the 25th islander to be recognized with this award, which was first presented in 1991. Lara shared her passion with the audience during her plenary speech on anticipated climate impacts to Bainbridge Island. Lara “approached climate change with such vivid knowledge and enthusiasm to rally us and the world to find solutions,” shared conference organizer Frank Stowell. 

Following the plenary, attendees were invited to participate in breakout sessions led by engaging Island leaders from environmental agencies and nonprofit organizations across Bainbridge Island. Attendees examined the impacts of climate change on Bainbridge Island’s shorelines, forests, air quality, transportation, infrastructure, and sense of place. The sessions were designed to encourage actionable insights and strategies to address these challenges and make progress toward a more sustainable future for Bainbridge Island.

The Bainbridge Island Land Trust, with its partners, work to protect and steward the places that plants, wildlife, and people will need to survive. Nature-based solutions, like land protection and watershed restoration, will be critical in addressing climate change impacts on the Island.

“Climate change is affecting not only our planet and our region, but our home of Bainbridge Island,” said conference organizer Christina Woolf. “We need to understand what that means for us as a community and individuals, and what we can do to make a positive difference for now and the future.”

The 2023 Bainbridge Island Environmental Conference was hosted by the Bainbridge Island Land Trust, Bainbridge Island Parks and Trails Foundation, Sustainable Bainbridge, Islandwood, and EcoAdapt. It was the 19th conference in this series, building on the foundational work of the Association of Bainbridge Communities, the local organization that started the conference in 2001. 

For more information about the conference and future events, please visit the conference website at